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Euro 2016: Manager Michael O'Neill hands big chance to young players

By Paul Ferguson

Published 04/06/2016

Rising star: Glenavon’s Joel Cooper
Rising star: Glenavon’s Joel Cooper

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill is set to give two young Irish League hotshots the opportunity of a lifetime.

On the eve of Northern Ireland's final Euro 2016 warm-up match against Slovakia in a hot and humid Trnava, a relaxed O'Neill revealed he planned to bring two under-21 players from the Danske Bank Premiership with him to France to join in training sessions with his 23-man squad.

O'Neill refused to divulge their identities but is it believed Glenavon winger Joel Cooper, who trained with Northern Ireland at Windsor Park ahead of the Belarus game, and either Crusaders' Gavin Whyte or Linfield's Paul Smyth will meet up with the senior squad when they fly into Lyon tomorrow to set up base camp for the tournament.

"I'll make a decision on that in the next 24 hours but I'm looking to bring in two young players from the Irish League to supplement the squad we already have," said O'Neill, who has Linfield's new signing Roy Carroll in his ranks along with former Irish League stars Alan Mannus, Gareth McAuley, Niall McGinn and Stuart Dallas.

Northern Ireland's Roy Carroll during Friday night's training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Northern Ireland's Roy Carroll during Friday night's training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty gets a kiss from Josh Magennis during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Will Grigg during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Jonny Evans during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland players during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland players during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland players during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Slovakia's Martin Skrtel (centre) takes part in a training session at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday June 3, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Slovakia's Juraj Kucka (second left) speaks to Vladimir Weiss (left) as they take part in a training session at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday June 3, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Slovakia's Juraj Kucka takes part in a training session at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday June 3, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Slovakia's Martin Skrtel (centre) takes part in a training session at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday June 3, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Slovakia's Martin Skrtel (right) takes part in a training session at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday June 3, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Slovakia team take part in a training session at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday June 3, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's captain Steven Davis during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's captain Steven Davis during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Michael McGovern during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Michael McGovern during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Alan Mannus during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Michael McGovern during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Conor Washington during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Aaron Hughes during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Conor Washington during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Jonny Evans during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Oliver Norwood during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Aaron Hughes during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Will Grigg during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Will Grigg during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 03rd June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Oliver Norwood during Friday nights training session at the City Arena stadium ahead of Saturdays final Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Slovakia in Trnava.
Northern Ireland's Steven Davis during a press conference and training session at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday June 3, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during a press conference and training session at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday June 3, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Steven Davis during a press conference and training session at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday June 3, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during a press conference and training session at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday June 3, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.

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